2012 marked the start of a full-speed trend for associations to answer “so what” about why they should matter to their members. The value proposition began it’s time in the spotlight.
Ada County Association of REALTORS® was our first Value Proposition Project. A never-forget moment from the workshop: after ACAR members (not the leaders) identified what they need most, I asked the staff and executive team “now that you know what members need most…what does ACAR do very, very well to match up to those needs?” The room went perfectly quiet. Not for a few seconds. It was just quiet for a while.
Soberingly quiet. This group of leaders, staff and visitors from the state weren’t sure what ACAR does well today to match up with that list of what members really need. CEO Mark Lebowitz declared, ”Wow that’s a problem. I’m just not sure!”
They listened closer when I rephrased the question to “What does ACAR do today that helps your members sleep better at night considering what they say they need most?”
A lightbulb switched on. The group realized that a value proposition is not a list of services and offerings that the association thinks members need. To be relevant, you must discover your value based on what your members need — and what they worry about most. That’s where ACAR conceived a relevant message.
ACAR leaders realized that a value proposition is the emotional benefit of membership first, the tangible benefits next. ACAR’s message, themed “Discover ACAR” urged members to come in and experience the association. One time is all it takes in order for the member to see – and feel how ACAR is unique from anyone else.
The lessons of that first value proposition workshop gives leaders a lot to consider. Kit Fitzgerald, the Association President at the time, knew that discovering, then developing ACAR’s value message would give them internal direction and focus that they didn’t have before. And that focus on the inside would mean that leaders could convey a very different message about why ACAR matters when they stand in front of members or greet them one by one.
The discomfort of that perfectly quiet room led to a new way to ‘reconsider everything’.
Kit reflected, “I was energized and refreshed from looking at the association from a completely different perspective. I envisioned what I wanted to happen, but wasn’t sure how to accomplish it. We did it…but in a way that we never would have been able to accomplish on our own.”
Since 2012 and ACAR’s “aha” moment, dozens of associations have gone through the same process. Bold conversations led them to reconsider and refresh how they covey their value to members.
If you believe that you could add value to your leaders’ communications toolbox in 2019, with a clear simple message, or an approach to deliver it, please connect with us.